07 Jul / The Last Werewolf Trilogy: The Last Werewolf, Talulla Rising, By Blood We Live by Glen Duncan
In a roundabout way I can’t quite recall, I ended up at this 2007 New York Times article, “Young Man Behaving Badly,” and learned that bestselling author Glen Duncan is hapa British Asian. I found his latest title, By Blood We Live, magically waiting on my shelves, only to realize it’s the last of a trilogy about werewolves and vampires, oh my. Although far from my usual comfort zone, I stuck the first third, The Last Werewolf, in my ears and quickly ticked off many miles – and, of course, I couldn’t stop. My greatest complaint (again) is beyond the author’s control: how hard could it have been for producers to cast the same narrators for the overlapping sections of a mere three-part series? Talk about teeth-grindingly jarring clicking from one book to another, alas.
While Duncan’s cast is pretty much international (albeit more Western than not), his hapa Indian heritage occasionally makes quick, almost imperceptible appearances. Kurtas are mentioned in passing as part of someone’s wardrobe, instances of racism are off-handedly remarked upon along the lines of, “We’re like those racists who exempt their favourite Indian waiter: No, not you, Raj. You’re all right.” Blink, and you might miss them …
Ah, but what of this trilogy? Yes, it’s expectedly monstrous and horrifying – some of the kill scenes are absolutely stomach-churning. But beyond the guts and gore, Duncan’s erudite, literary, satirical, droll imagination is constantly urging you on to the next page: “Reading a book is a dangerous thing,” a character warns. True that.
The Last Werewolf is exactly as the title implies. Jacob Marlowe (sly nods to Jacob Marley, Christopher Marlowe?) has had too much of just about everything in his 200 years. He’s endured the first half of his unnatural life, but he doesn’t have much he looks forward to, stuck in a malaise of monthly huntings and being hunted by WOCOP, that is the World Organization for the Control of Occult Phenomena. He’s watched everyone he cares for die, not to mention he’s the last of his kind. Or at least he thought he was … until he gets a whiff of Talulla Mary Apollonia Demetriou, who jolts him out of his ennui and gives him a reason to live.
Too soon after their meeting, Tallula is on the run in Tallula Rising. She’s miraculously pregnant, although werewolves aren’t supposed to be privy to reproduction. But even in a remote corner of Alaska, she isn’t safe. She gives birth to her son, only to lose him minutes later when he’s kidnapped by a horde of vampires who swoop in and then are gone … leaving her to bring her daughter into the world. We’re barely 50 pages in, giving Talulla 300-plus more to reclaim her family. Motherhood – even for a self-described “dead-hearted b**ch who didn’t love her babies” – was never quite this hairy (couldn’t resist).
In the finale, By Blood We Live, which debuted earlier this year, the original ‘last’ has become so many that the Vatican has gotten involved – as vicious hunters: “Rome is secretly training an army of warriors to destroy [werewolves and vampires].” Talulla’s family – by blood, and otherwise – too, has decidedly grown … which means, so have her worries and challenges. As if staying safe wasn’t enough, she’s being watched/visited/haunted/stalked by a 20,000-year-old being. Talk about incompatibility: the only thing they have in common might be a very, very remote past. Some things are timeless, right?
The body count blurs, the gore rarely pauses, the attachments have to be fleeting, the sex is (literally) out of this world … and yet the chuckles are frequent, even in the direst moments. Monsters abound, but these grim fairy tales are an adrenaline injection from which you won’t want to recover.
Published: 2011, 2012, 2014